Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Jones: Why Lightning fans won't lose sleep over Drouin trade to Montreal

Jonathan Drouin is a decent NHL player on his way to being a good NHL player.

He might even turn out to be a very good player.

But it won't be for the Lightning.

And that's fine.

Au revoir, Jonathan, and don't let the Zamboni door hit you on the way out of town. Then again, if the Zamboni door is in the defensive end, there's no chance Drouin will be anywhere near it.

Don't fret, Lightning fans. Don't lose sleep. This is all going to work out just fine.

The Lightning traded an often moody, sometimes selfish, occasionally petulant, one-dimensional, streaky player for one who has a chance to become a top-pair defenseman — the rarest of NHL commodities and something the Lightning needs more than anything in this world.

Hey, did you forget? The Lightning missed the playoffs last season. Changes needed to be made. Changes should be made. Bold changes.

This is certainly a bold change, although let's not act as if the Lightning just traded Wayne Gretzky.

If Steven Stamkos can stay healthy — and, yes, that's a big if at this point — the Lightning isn't going to miss Drouin's offense at all.

But be warned: this trade is going to take some time to swing the Lightning's way. Mikhail Sergachev, the player the Lightning acquired, is only 18 years old. If he's like most young defensemen, he's going to need a couple of years of seasoning to reach his potential.

And from listening to people who know their hockey, Sergachev's potential is enormous.

But, I get it, this a tough deal for the Lightning to make and an even harder one for Lightning fans to swallow. People don't like what they haven't seen. We're comfortable with familiarity and very uncomfortable with the unknown.

We've seen plenty of Drouin — 164 NHL games worth. We've seen 29 goals and 66 assists, and we've seen many of them again and again on highlight shows. He can be a dazzling player and we tend to remember those special moments instead of all the turnovers in his own zone on the rare times he bothered to get back into his own zone.

On the other hand, most casual hockey fans had never even heard of Sergachev let alone seen him play. That's why Lightning fans are a little spooked today. They have to rely on scouting reports and opinions instead of their own eyes.

This deal, however, is so much more complicated than a simple player-for-player hockey deal that fills needs for two hockey teams and looks promising for all parties involved.

There's the upcoming expansion draft and salary cap issues and other core players who need to be signed, now and in the future.

There's more.

We cannot discount Drouin's troubled history in Tampa Bay, which included Drouin quitting the organization and what appeared to be a strained relationship with coach Jon Cooper. As much the Lightning might have wanted to part ways with Drouin, you have to think Drouin is more than thrilled to be leaving Tampa Bay, especially to play about a block from where he lives in Montreal.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman shot down such a question Thursday, saying the deal was strictly a hockey deal. The Lightning needed something the Canadiens had and you have to give up something good to get something good. He called Drouin an "excellent young man'' and added, "I expect he's going to have a long and successful career.''

That might be true, but if the Lightning truly believed it needed Drouin to win a Stanley Cup, Drouin would still be here.

And should the Lightning really want a player who, deep down, doesn't want to be here?

Look, for all his faults (and there are many), Drouin has skills (and there are many) you cannot teach. He's going to have big moments in Montreal. Some of them might even happen against Tampa Bay, seeing as how he remains in the same division. He will show up on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays and on plenty of score sheets.

One place he won't show up? In Lightning nightmares.

This deal is going to work out just fine for Tampa Bay.

Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones

 
Comments
Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

WASHINGTON — Tyler Johnson was as good as gone.Or so it seemed.The scuttlebutt around last year's trade deadline was that the Lightning center could be the piece headed elsewhere to land a top-four defenseman. Maybe Nashville? St. Louis?Then th...
Published: 02/19/18
Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

TAMPA – The Lightning still might land that top tier defenseman it certainly needs by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. But if that player was wearing a Tampa Bay sweater Saturday, would the outcome against the Devils have been any different?The Ligh...
Published: 02/19/18
Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Reports and rumors involving the Lightning leading up to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 26:Feb. 17A smaller move could pay big dividendsIf you look at the history of recent Stanley Cup champions, their pivotal moves were subtle, not splashy, the Time...
Published: 02/19/18
Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils forward Miles Wood was suspended two games without pay for his boarding penalty Saturday night against Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov during the second period of the Devils 4-3 victory.The hit knocked Namestnikov into the boards ...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18
Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

TAMPA — When it comes to the trade deadline, everyone wants the big names. They dream of blockbusters.Lightning fans would love Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson or Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Maybe even Rangers wing Rick Nash.But if you ...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

TAMPA — Lightning D Jake Dotchin was scratched Saturday against the Devils, making it the fifth time in six games that he did not play."Obviously the playing time is down a bit," Dotchin said after the morning skate. "I just got to keep working...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — It was a game for Cold War nostalgia and present-day geopolitical angst, for feisty, post-whistle scraps in the corners and for cheap jokes on Twitter. It was a game drenched in history at the start and simmering with ill fee...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

The emphasis was on defense during Friday's practice and today's morning skate as the Lightning look to reduce not only the number of shots on goal allowed but also scoring chances. It allowed 39 in Thursday's win against the Red Wings and 33 in Thu...
Published: 02/17/18
Lightning falls to Devils

Lightning falls to Devils

TAMPA — The Lightning took enough shots to win Saturday’s game against the Devils. It scored enough goals to win, too. Problem was, the Lightning made enough mistakes to lose."There were a lot of positives," captain Steven Stamkos said, "but they sco...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Youth leads U.S. men’s hockey team against Russia on Saturday

Winter Olympics: Youth leads U.S. men’s hockey team against Russia on Saturday

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk were dominating the NHL before Ryan Donato, Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway started playing organized hockey. "I think I dreamed about playing against those guys one day," Donato, 21, said. Dre...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18